Horror Club: The Possession of Hannah Grace (spoilers)
New to theaters this past weekend is The Possession of Hannah Grace; written by Brian Sieve and directed by Diederik Van Rooijen, it follows the story of a young woman named Megan Reed and her first few shifts at her new 11pm to 7am hospital morgue gig. Megan - played by Shay Mitchell - is an ex-cop in Boston who had an incident at her police job, and this overnight morgue job was suggested to her by her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor Lisa, who is a nurse at the hospital. The morgue is quiet, dark, and definitely creepy with its motion sensor lights that flicker on and off, the obnoxious horn that sounds when a fresh, incoming cadaver is at the ambulance bay ready to be brought in, and the silence of the dead bodies that lay in the morgue drawers just a stone's throw away from Megan's desk. All goes smoothly for Megan until one body - the mangled, cut, burned and nearly decapitated body of Hannah Grace - makes its way into the morgue, and it isn't long before strange and unusual events start occurring, which understandably begin to freak Megan out. But when a man sneaks into the private, secure morgue and tries to burn the body of Hannah Grace at any cost necessary, questions begin to arise as to the story behind the corpse that landed at Megan's front door step. What secrets does she possess, and was that really an exhale she heard coming from the dead, decomposing body? It's about to be one hell of a night for Megan, as things go from creepy to killer in The Possession of Hannah Grace.
Right off the bat, the movie throws you right into the action when you are put into the room with two priests, a violent, possessed Hannah Grace and her father. That momentum continues to build throughout the entirety of Hannah Grace - you'll find there's constantly a scare around every corner of the hospital as Megan makes her way around the dark corridors of the morgue. If jump scares or general uneasiness in movies just aren't your thing, this film won't do anything for you since it relies quite heavily on those scare tactics to get a reaction out of the viewer. Fortunately, I love a good jump scare in modern horror so the movie kept my attention from beginning to end in that regard, Any time Hannah Grace isn't on the screen, you'll find yourself in anticipation of her next appearance, eagerly awaiting that next "boo" moment. But I think for most viewers, that's where the appeal for this film ends - with the jump scares. For a movie with "possession" in the name, there's not a whole lot of crazy possession scenes; that's not to say there's none worth seeing, but a lot of the time when you see Hannah, you're going to be seeing her body contorting as she walks on all fours (Linda Blair style) or as she's on a murder spree, using her victims deaths to heal her own wounds so she can regain her strength and power as the possessed. If you are going into this expecting a performance along the likes of The Exorcist, keep looking; but if you're open to just freaky creature scenes, then this movie may be worth your time.
The Possession of Hannah Grace feels like The Ring meets The Autopsy of Jane Doe meets just a hint of The Exorcist. And while it isn't the worst movie to come out in recent years, it isn't exactly stellar. The story sounds pretty entertaining but it was kinda cliché in its delivery. There's not a whole lot of mystery that will leave you on the edge of your seat during the movie (but the jump scares might!), and honestly, even the ending was pretty much as cliché as it can get; it's predictable and wasn't at all what the rest of the story was building up to. What is pretty satisfying was the kills Hannah Grace delivers to her victims throughout the movie: most notably, a few of the deaths had the victim hovering above the ground in a "Jesus on the cross" position just before their demise, it was pretty brutal looking. The other kills, however, are nothing to write home about and could have been a lot more epic considering the girl was possessed by a demon! But if you are able to look past all of these things, surely you'll enjoy the overall haunting atmosphere of the morgue and even the portrayal of Megan by Shay Mitchell - both make the predictable film worth the watch, if you don't mind the cliché story line the rest of the movie (and the ending) has to offer. The Possession of Hannah Grace isn't a dreadfully bad movie, but it fell short of my expectations I had for it based on the trailer; honestly, I was hoping for more epic possession scenes, more brutal kill scenes. Worth your dollar rental for movie night, but not full price tickets at the movie theater unfortunately. Watch this one in the dark late at night, it'll make it just a bit more tolerable.